Fragmentation or Integration

The home technology landscape is developing at a startling rate, with blue-chip companies the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft all trying to fill the gap between centralised, hardware-based systems and the app ecosystem. But what are the challenges they face and how can they improve on what already exists today?

One of the questions we get asked all the time is “why do I need a control system when I can have an app for my lights, app for my music, app for my heating and app for my alarm system ?” The answer is - simplicity and integration.

Apps have become the proverbial ‘remote controls in the middle of the coffee table’, creating clutter and confusion for those who are not rocket scientists. While using a multitude of apps is great if you are a gadget fan who doesn’t mind jumping from one screen to another on your iPad, it may not be practical for those who are less technology-minded. Each app may look different and contain a whole host of ‘stuff’ that on a day to day level you may never need to touch. For any new system to work it must consolidate all of the systems you use in to one, easy to use interface.

The other issue with a multi-app setup is how systems interact with one other. A control system makes it easy to, for example, have all of your lights switch on when you get home from work and deactivate your alarm system, or setup ‘scenes’ for different lifestyle scenarios. These may include a ‘wake up’ scene that slowly fades up your bedroom lights, turns the heating on, starts the radio playing and opens your motorised curtains. Apps as yet cannot provide the lifestyle benefits of a modern smart-home, but technology alliances are starting to be formed so it is certainly a case of ‘watch this space!’.

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